Like most human beings I want everything to happen instantaneously. No hard work, no waiting for the right time. I want it now. Karate isn’t like that. I’ve seen extremely gifted people begin training, excelling through the lessons faster than it seems possible. On the other hand, I’ve also seen those who have had to work hard, sweating and straining to achieve each milestone. ┬áMost of us are in the middle ground, paying our dues with sweat equity and determination.

Everything worth anything takes time. That’s why I sometimes have to chuckle when I see a brand spanking new black belt who struts around like they know everything. Little do they know – but they’ll learn soon enough – that they’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. They’re only now ready to learn. Lessons unfolding around them reveal something new, they hadn’t noticed before. So fixated on having a big draw hand they failed to see the role the hip plays in the punch.

Have patience. It takes time for the knowledge to seep in. Keep training with humility and dedication. The best things in life are truly worth waiting for. Persistence is the key that’s unlocked many a door. Respect your teachers. You’ll get there at your right time.

Finding Balance

Finding balance. That’s a tricky one. It’s something I struggle with in my personal life, for sure. I want to do everything, and help everyone. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible and more importantly, it’s not always healthy. Finding balance means taking time for yourself as well as others.

What does this have to do with karate? For me a lot. I’ve had to juggle a business, a family, and various creative passions all along side my karate life. The things I just mentioned have a way becoming roadblocks to your training. It just happens.

The other day I was thinking back to when I wanted to return to karate. I’d had to stop and take a break due to both my work schedule and I’d had a new baby. Juggling an infant along with training was nearly impossible. I went back to training when he began his karate journey. And I made my husband a promise. Karate would not take over my life. Again. I’d maintain balance. Anyone who knows me now, knows I lied. Sort of. Achieving my goal meant training literally morning, noon and night for a while. But just for a while. After I earned my black belt I made sure to cut back on my training a bit to make time for my family.

The tough part of teaching the martial arts isn’t giving the instruction – it’s the hours you have to keep. You teach when students can come to class, which means evenings away from home. No family dinners. No family time. For me, finding balance meant I didn’t teach late every night. Just most. And I get to teach with my son now, which means we spend lots of time together. That helps.

Finding balance. That’s the key. I”m still a work in progress. In both my personal and professional life. But martial arts has given me the focus and determination to keep working to make that happen.


Mine is not the normal story. Mine is not the normal journey to Shodan. It began a long time ago, took many turns, and even some side journeys before I was back on the path to Shodan.

Getting back on the road and toiling towards the goal that always seem so allusive was difficult. I had aged. My body had aged. But my spirit was still the same. Determined. Anxious. Obsessed.

There are no regrets for those things that diverted my path. They were perhaps a necessary adventure that brought me back to my Shodan quest, even more determined to achieve the final goal.

Friday night I felt my feet firmly planted on the path of my choosing. The moment my hands wrapped around the new belt and I heard through the haze of disbelief that my next test was for black belt my soul soared with joy and just as quickly lurched back, free falling towards the ground…black belt. Would I be worthy? Would I have what it took to make the final sprint towards the finish line and be deserving of the title of black belt when I got there?

I remember breathing deeply, grinning ear-to-ear with my new belt in hand and heading to ring the bell (a tradition in our dojo) realizing I was just taking the first step towards a new journey…a journey that was just beginning at Shodan…it wasn’t the destination…merely a starting point.